Friday, August 26, 2005
Those French intelligence officials....
The Financial Times carries an interview with France’s top anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière. One piece of information -- which the FT is hyping -- is that Al Qaeda is ostensibly planning an attack on a financial center in the Pacific Rim.
However, the meat of the interview contains an interesting observation about the distinctions between civil law and commonlaw countries in dealing with terrorism:
Readers are invited to comment on the tradeoffs between the two legal traditions in dealing with national security issues. On economic growth, there are other tradeoffs, btw.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
The future of computer science?
On of the common laments about offshore outsourcing is that it is causing a decline of interest in computer science and related engineering tasks.
Via Slashdot, I see that Steve Lohr had an interesting piece in the New York Times earlier this week that provides some support for this lament -- but the market is doing interesting things to the study of computers:
Read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, in India, the returns to offshoring are declining because of rising wages, according to CNN's Parija Bhatnagar:
The President's suggested reading
The Washington Examiner asked
I will say, though, that Bush's actual selections -- "John Barry's The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History and Edvard Radzinsky's Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar" -- aren't too shabby. The first choice, in particular, might have some policy relevance for the future.
That said, Jonathan Rauch's selection is the one that stands out.
Beloit College needlessly reminds me of my age
I have a summer birthday, and I am creeping ever closer to 40. Curiously, I seem to be the oldest member of my peer group, and so all of my friends take great delight in saying "Dude, you're old." at the appropriate moment.
In that spirit, it seems fitting to link to the Beloit College Mindset List for this year:
My highlights from this year's list:
And, in conclusion:
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The Global Fund depresses me on Uganda
For many of the blights that bedevil sub-Saharan Africa -- AIDS, poverty, corruption -- Uganda has been considered an exception. However, Sebastian Mallaby's The World's Banker implied that much of this success would not necessarily be self-sustaining.
It's with that in mind that I was saddened but not surprised to see this Alan Beattie story in the Financial Times:
OK, I think I've got Pat Robertson's cycle figured out...
Hmmm... about two years ago, Pat Robertson spoke out in favor of supporting indicted war criminal, former Liberian President/strongman Charles Taylor.
And two years before that, there was the whole 9/11 commentary (although Robertson later said that he had "not fully understood" when he was agreeing with his guest Jerry Falwell).
Readers are invited to identify the target of ire or defense that will make Robertson look like a foreign policy jackass in the summer of 2007.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Iran's smoking gun goes poof
Three weeks ago today Dafnia Linzer had a Washington Post front-pager on an National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran wasn't nearly as close to developing nuclar weapons as previously thought.
Three weeks later, Linzer pours even colder water on Iran's WMD progress:
Link via David Adesnik, who asks, "The question, then, would seem to be the same one as we now ask about Iraq: Why would a government with nothing to hide constantly lie to international inspectors?"
Monday, August 22, 2005
What's the best way to deal with broadband?
The September/October issue of Foreign Affairs has an interesting exchange of letters between Bleha and Philip Weiner on how best to rectify the situation. Bleha prefers "top-level political leadership" and "a national broadband strategy with bold deployment goals." Weiner offers some excellent cautions to this strategy, including this fascinating bit of protectionist trivia:
Read the whole exchange.
Does China contradict the liberal paradigm, part deux
Following up on my post a few months ago on whether China's economic liberalization will lead to democratization, the Economist asks similar questions about the trajectory of Hu Jintao's government -- and comes up with the same muddled answer:
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Media Wars, Episode II: The Media Strikes Back
Three weeks after Judge Richard Posner's disquisition on the media in the New York Times Book Review, the responses are in.
The NYT Book Review publishes five letters, including Eric Alterman, Bill Moyers, and NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller. Posner chose not to respond, which is a bit surprising, since the letters all have their flaws.
Let's take Keller for an example:
I'm not sure I completely buy Posner's original thesis, but this response by Keller is cartoonish and uninformed. Of course journalists can write stories contrary to their personal prejudices -- one of Posner's points in the initial review was that market competition forces journalists to put aside their prior beliefs. As to whether media is capable of "standing up to their advertisers (and the prejudices of their readers)," I'm pretty sure that Posner's theory would allow for this possibility -- but it's always the exception and never the rule. Posner's trying to explain the overall trend, not the exceptions.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure Posner would be eminently comfortable with theories that postulate "the behavior of the American judiciary [is] explainable purely as a response to economic self-interest?" There's a small-but-emerging literature in political science about explaining opportunistic behavior among judges -- click here for one example.
How do I know that Posner would be comfortable with this argument? See Richard A. Posner, "What Do Judges Maximize? (The Same Thing Everybody Else Does)," Supreme Court Economic Review, vol. 3 (1995), pp. 1-28.